Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bureau of Land Management finds enslaved Peruvian Sheepherders starving to death in Idaho -- True? False? Maybe?

I just found this from a three-month old Sacramento Bee article on slavery in the U.S. It has one sentence that caught my eye:

"In Idaho, Bureau of Land Management agents found sheepherders from Peru starving to death, Bell said."

Anybody know about this? Did I just miss it somehow?

--Zadig

Friday, September 28, 2007

And while we're at it....

Did anyone else see the WTF moment in last week's media about The Nature Conservancy, which apparently considers the un-permitted use of highly-toxic chemicals essential to "Saving the last great places?"

Even the wildlife-weirdo locals who "are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary by prairie dog hunting" are appalled, not to mention some among TNC's favorite demographic:
Rancher Larry Haverfield, who has dealt with prairie dogs for 25-years, says Phostoxin is harmful to everything. "It kills wildlife in all areas it's used," says Haverfield.
If a rancher is more concerned with harm to wildlife than the "conservation group," we're all in trouble.

[Are there any national environmental groups we can trust?]

- Lozen

Won't you send us $35 today so we can plan a timber sale on your national forest?

The Missoulian has an article today boasting about the courageous folks at The Wilderness Society who have put aside their lawsuits and done the "very difficult work" of sitting at a table and outlining logging plans for a local national forest. They have established "principles" to guide their logging project and are now moving toward implementing it.

The article says this will be a way to break through the paralysis and get something done and plus everyone gets to learn a little something about each other.

The group will start planning logging projects on the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests in Western Montana.

Other than the local lumber mills and The Wilderness Society, the article did not identify what organizations were involved in this collaboration, but I found it telling that no organization that has actually been involved in any litigation in Montana was quoted or identified as being a part of the group. The Wilderness Society is little more than a logging and grazing front-group in that part of the country (at this point Bob Marshall has rolled over in his grave so many times he's more properly considered to be buried in China), ever willing to cut a deal in the ecologically rich low country to save a few high, rocky peaks for their increasingly obnoxious fund-raising appeals. ("Won't you give us $35 today so we can save the spotted owl from extinction?")

And when you look at the principles they have come up with ("improve terrestrial habitat," "enhance ecological processes," and, um, "establish . . . a road system") there is nothing in there that is not already codified in some manner in our nation's laws or in the forest plans. (I can hear those ignoramuses guffawing at that statement already--but it's only because they haven't actually read or spent any time defending the Forest Plans or the laws and regulations that guided them.)

The problem is not a lack of principles or law, it is a lack of enforcement of principles and law. And for enforcement of principles, well, that is something one would most assuredly not turn to The Wilderness Society to see. (Their principles are derived from and printed on the checkbooks of their contributors.)

If the Forest Service wants to avoid litigation, it is going to need to talk to the people who actually sue it, not the green-cover groups like The Wilderness Society, and the Missoulian should be able to see this (or certainly Michael Moore should, a long-time reporter there with a clearer eye and, hopefully, cleaner conscience than that embarrassing paper's other environmental reporters, Perry Backus and Sherry Devlin).

But the Forest Service doesn't want to talk to the groups that sue it and it also doesn't want to see these principles actually enforced. That's why it turns to The Wilderness Society for cover -- it can look good while conducting business as usual, building its roads and insisting that streams will be protected and habitat will improve with the introduction of heavy equipment and tractor-based logging.

Back in the 1990s when this type of logging was going full bore, a lot of folks who actually spent time in the woods became pretty appalled at what was happening in Western Montana, and they started holding the agency accountable for it. They demanded to know why roads were falling off hillsides, streams were filling with silt, and clearcutting was rampant, and their increasing sophistication and knowledge is what has led to their recent courtroom successes.

The people who work for The Wilderness Society, by contrast, just plain weren't there, as usual. They were too busy fighting for alpine peaks, rocks, and ice and they are just as irrelevant now as they ever were, although somewhat more dangerous, now that they have decided that helping the Forest Service plan timber sales is part of their mission and is something their members want to pay them to do.

Update: Please see the comments section.
--Zadig

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oops, picked up Range Magazine by mistake

WTF? The recent edition of Desert Report from the Sierra Club contains an article by a rancher extolling the virtues of desert livestock grazing. It's called "Grazing: The Essential Management Tool."

Predictably, the article begins with a pastoral description of a "crisp February morning" and the sweeping views out the ranch house windows, along with (really!) a paean to the "custom and culture" of the cowboy industry. The article ends with the statement that "there exists no good substitute for properly-managed grazing in stimulating and maintaining plant health and vigor for the good of all users, be they human, animal or insect."

I am at a complete loss, and sit here stupefied.

--Zadig

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The same river twice


Here it is, folks: one last look at the San Pedro sans vehicle barrier, roadbeds, and border walls. If you are interested in seeing this miracle yourself, we recommend a prompt visit. The construction stakes have been placed and the pink flagging demarcating the path of the 12-foot fence flaps just beyond the photo's edge.

- Lozen

P.S. If anyone has any great ideas on how to actually save this place from the absurd posturing of Homeland Security, please post.

P.P.S. If anyone thinks the border fence will work, read this.

And this.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NASA: Antarctica's ice is melting, too

This just in from NASA: it isn't just the arctic that is melting, Antarctica is suffering the effects of climate change, too.

I now return to researching real estate for sale in Winnipeg.

--Zadig

Ted Stevens is going down

Among Western Senators, Larry Craig, Conrad Burns, and Ted Stevens have been some of the worst for American public lands. I stayed up late last election night to watch my old arch-enemy "Comrade" Burns lose his seat in Montana, and I toasted his loss with gusto.

When Larry Craig's sad psychic struggle finally became impossible for the Republic Party to ignore, I felt bad for the situation but I cheered--oh how I cheered!-- that he would be leaving the Senate. Like Burns, Craig had been around a long, long time and he was an extremely powerful man, weilding a power that he did not deserve as a Senator from such a small state.

Now it looks like Alaska's Ted Stevens, who may be worse than anyone, may soon be joining them
. Only possibly, he will be in a federal prison.

--Zadig

Arctic sea ice has likely hit its 2007 minimum

Although they caution that sea ice has tricked them before, the National Sea Ice Data Center report today that the 2007 Arctic sea ice minimum was hit on September 16, and the ice is now growing.

This year's minimum was approximately one million square miles smaller than the average minimum between 1979 and 2000. To put that in perspective, the average summer minimum has been 2.6 million square miles. This year it was 1.5 million square miles. Scared yet?

That's three Texas's and two Californias' worth of bright white reflective surface, transformed into dark absorbent mass. By us.

If we used tags at DL, this one would go under "Apocalyptic signs of imminent runaway global warming." And if we were a non-profit environmental group, we would now urge you to (a) give us money (get a free tote bag!) and (b) change your light bulbs.

--Zadig

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't that just say it all....

The Sierra Vista Herald (AZ) is reporting that on Senator Jon Kyl's recent trip to this military town, he met with local Republicans and the Upper San Pedro River Partnership. He was whining about the sad state of affairs for his pathetic party, promising to fund border infrastructure, and listening to the Upper San Pedro River Partnership beg for money to save the San Pedro.

Got that?

The Upper San Pedro River Partnership has been more than useless in actually protecting the River. This team has done nothing but watch the water table drop in the years that it has been sucking resources from the community and studying- endlessly studying- the threats.

Now these hacks are asking Jon Kyl to help them fund more studies to save the same river that crosses the same border that Jon Kyl is "securing." The upper reaches of the San Pedro River in the U.S. will be effectively destroyed by the pedestrian "fence" that the BLM just approved under the gun of the Secure Fence Act.

When the San Pedro section was added to a wall proposal a few years back, Kyl was reluctantly persuaded to alter the plan in order to save the riparian corridor. But what has he done for you lately?

- Lozen

"It's like hunting a sofa"

From the excellent Western Watersheds blog comes this story about a decision to open the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming to bison hunting. Or should we say bison "hunting," a sport which has been compared to hunting a sofa.

The refuge managers say they need to permit this "hunting" because bison have overrun the place. The trouble is, every winter they also artificially feed these very same bison that so badly need killing. Soooooo, feed the bison, shoot the bison, feed the bison, shoot the bison. And pretend it's just one more tragic but unavoidable result of proper management.

The Western Watersheds blog post issues the poignant reminder that this is a politically charged action in Dick Cheney's home state, where blasting away at your fellow "hunters" on a drunken outing is considered to be sporting.

--Zadig

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This just in from the Puke In Your Mouth department

We just received notice of an important job opening at the World Wildlife Fund, managing alliances with the Forest Products Industry. Good luck everybody!

Program Officer, Forest & Trade Network

Job description:
World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the global conservation organization, seeks a Program Officer for its North America Forest & Trade Network. This position will manage alliances with companies in the forest products industry.

Basic requirements:
A Bachelor's degree required. A graduate degree in related field is preferred. Position requires at least three years of experience in program management, biodiversity conservation, or natural resources management and an understanding of international conservation issues. Experience working with the forest products industry or with organizations focusing on corporate environmental responsibility preferred.

AA/EOE Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. To apply, please visit
http://www.worldwildlife.org/about/jobs.cfm or send cover letter and resume by fax to (202) 293-9211. Job # 28056.

The closing date for accepting applications to this position is October 12, 2007
--Zadig

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ocelots are collateral damage

That title comes from this excellent piece in yesterday's Salon. The ocelot, the jaguar, the pronghorn, the black bear, and pretty much anything bigger than a human fist.

So raise your fists, folks.

- Lozen

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This is so goddamn scary

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the average low for arctic ice between 1979 and 2000 is approximately 6.8 million square kilometers.

Last year, though, a record low aerial extent of ice demolished previous records with an area of just 5.3 million square kilometers. That record was set at the traditional low point of arctic sea ice on September 20.

This year we hit the 5.3 million mark on the 17th of August.

Currently arctic sea ice is at 4.2 million square kilometers. That's about forty percent off the average, with time to go for more melting to occur, and little hope that winter will make up the difference.

All that arctic ice, previously reflecting sunlight, now a heat-absorbing ocean.

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ever a decade behind the times, announced last week that it predicts sea ice to fall by more than forty percent by 2050. Good guess, NOAA! They came to this conclusion by reviewing data that is from as recently as 1999. As always, you be the judge.
--Zadig, sorry again for a post about global warming that has nothing to do with American public lands.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weigh in on this one, folks.

In a rare opportunity for pre-decisional public comment on the border wall construction, the good folks at the Buenos Aires NWR are asking for your input on the fence project that traverses the refuge:
The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge wants to know what you think about the proposed use of a 0.8 mile stretch of its lands for a section of 7-mile fence flanking Sasabe. The Department of Homelands Security is required to obtain approval from the refuge. Officials have issued a draft compatibility determination that reviews whether the fence will interfere with the refuge’s responsibilities; it is available at libraries in Green Valley and Arivaca. Written comments received by Sept. 18 will be considered in the final draft of this document. Comments should be sent to: Refuge Manager, Buenos Aires NWR, P.O. Box 109, Sasabe, Arizona, 85633. To request a copy of the document or get more information, you can call the refuge office at (520) 823-4251.
Please do. And check out this link to a great story in the Arizona Daily Star yesterday. Our favorite quote, from Dave Stoddard, a former Border Patrol supervisor who retired in 1996 after 27 years with the agency:
Any jaguar, butterfly, deer or other life form that cannot make it over a 12-foot fence needs to be eliminated from the gene pool," said Stoddard.
Gotta love it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Goodbye, Jaguar.

Thanks US Fish and Wildlife Service, for your generous reading of the Endangered Species Act that allows you to feel guilt-free about walling jaguars out of the United States permanently. The recent biological opinion that you signed to wall the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge - two of the few known corridors for the species - will surely mean that you have to consult less on this species in the future- BECAUSE THERE WILL BE NO MORE JAGUARS IN THE UNITED STATES!
The fence will block jaguar movements across the border in the areas it is constructed, as jaguars are unlikely to jump over the 15 to 18-foot fence; and because the fence will be impermeable to humans, jaguars will also be prevented from going through the fence. There are not likely to be any gaps in the fence.
Unlikely to jump, eh? Yeah, wrong species.
If you have questions regarding this Biological Opinion, please call Doug Duncan (520) 670-6150 (x236) or Sherry Barrett (520) 670-6150 (x223) of my staff. Please refer to the consultation number 22410-2007-F-0416 in future correspondence concerning this project.
Luckily, there are a whole lot of cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls in Mexico for the jaguar to snack on, right guys?

-Lozen

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Let it rain

Can't find a link to it on the web, but DL has it on good authority that there has been an environmental assessment and a "Finding of No Significant Impact" issued for the border wall along the already-beleaguered San Pedro River. We have heard that there were four alternatives considered, the first being the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and the Border Patrol proposal to "pedestrian fence" the entire stretch from the river bank to Douglas, Arizona, a total of 31 miles. Mind you, BLM doesn't manage this entire stretch, so the EA only considered the small piece under the BLM jurisdiction.

BLM, in a risky concession to wildlife, decided to let them build the wall, but to only allow for vehicle barriers in the wet and dry riparian areas, since everyone knows that the first flood event is likely to wipe out any wall anyway. We suppose this is better than the ACOE proposal to wall the whole thing. Or much, much worse for wildlife than nothing, which was one of the alternatives considered. (The remaining alternative was to only build vehicle barriers, which had reportedly worked quite well in other lands along the border.)

The reason that this is a risky concession is that the Department of Homeland Security can simply take the BLM's decision and determine that it is interfering with the "expeditious construction of the barriers," and waive NEPA under the Real ID Act. Same is true for any lawsuit or appeal of the Decision- mess with DHS and they will surely mess with you. The concerted effort of the current administration to remove the power from the people is terrifying.

There is another way, and we remind you of the Grijalva legislation introduced a few months ago. Call your senators. Write op-eds. Jump up and down. But please, don't just sit there. This is the San Pedro River- beloved biological gem, the last free-flowing river in Arizona, the second most diverse place for mammals in North America.